Pawnee Pass (#907)

Photo of the Pawnee Pass Trail in August with a flowers and large rocks

Length: Long Lake Trailhead (TH) to Long Lake - 0.2 miles; to Jean Lunning Trail - 1.2; to Lake Isabelle - 2.1 miles; to Pawnee Pass - 4.6 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY.

Elevation: 10,500 feet at the Long Lake TH; 12,541 feet at Pawnee Pass.

Trail Description: The first quarter mile of the Pawnee Pass Trail to Long Lake is a very heavily used trail. The trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness shortly after leaving the trailhead, and continues along Long Lake as a wide and fairly flat trail. West of Long Lake, Jean Lunning Trail  intersects on the left, looping back toward the trailhead.

The Pawnee Pass Trail continues up the valley at a gentle grade through wooded terrain. It makes a short climb to Lake Isabelle, which sits just below tree line.

The Pawnee Pass Trail turns right (north) and climbs on a graded switchback trail. The trail first crosses a couple creeks and circles under a ridge above Lake Isabelle. It gains a wide bench above tree line by a series of short switchbacks. Another steep switchback pitch often holds snow late into the summer and leads to the top of Pawnee Pass (elevation 12,541').

The Cascade Creek Trail continues west from Pawnee Pass.

Click here for a trail summary.

View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Fees: Brainard Lake Recreation Area fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid/late-June through late September).
Permit Info: This trail lies within the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 through November 30.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Best season for hiking is July - October.
Restrictions: Indian Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:
  • Camping is prohibited on this trail from May 1 through Nov 30.
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized transportation are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires are prohibited year round.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12.
  • Packstock (horses, llamas etc.) are prohibited.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife. 
Closest Towns: Ward, Colorado
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


From Colorado Highway 72 at Ward, turn west onto the Brainard Lake Road. Travel 2.5 miles to the entrance portal, and continue another three miles to Long Lake Trailhead.


Due to its high elevation, the Brainard area is not generally snow-free until late June or even July in some years. The seasonally-open Brainard Lake Road may be open as late as November 14, but typically is closed due to snow by late October. Strong skiers and snowshoers enjoy this trail in winter, accessed from Red Rock Trailhead.


Lake and Pond Fishing

Day Hiking

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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